A simple idea with huge potential. That is how Francisco Pinto, a MSc student at EIT Innoenergy’s Energy Transition program describe the mine storage concept and that is why he chose to write is MSc thesis in collaboration with Mine Storage. The EIT Innoenergy Master programs are increasing in popularity and being able to contribute to the green energy transition and a better world is a huge driver for many students.
We had a chat with Francisco to get his point of view on why he wants to be a part of the green energy transition and why he chose to focus on energy storage for his Master thesis.
Why did you choose to do your MSc in Energy Transition?
I did my BSc in Mining Engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico but felt that I wanted to focus on sustainability for my MSc as the need for renewable energy is what will be driving the development of most industries over the coming decades. Whilst studying for my MSc at EIT Innoenergy’s Energy Transition program, I realized the importance of energy storage since only renewables won’t support the global need for energy unless we ensure that we have energy storage to support the energy system.
How did you learn about Mine Storage?
I came across Mine Storage before I attended The Business Booster and I was immediately attracted to the fact that they mixed mining with renewable energy. Their concept is simple but genius. By using already existing infrastructure in the form of mines, they store energy by pumping water from the lower parts of the mine up to ground level, and then they give energy back to the grid by releasing the water back into the mine via turbines. I ended up helping the Mine Storage team at their booth during the conference and I got to understand more of the solution and it’s huge potential during those days.
Why did you want to write your Master’s thesis in collaboration with Mine Storage?
I’m from Portugal and as such, I have studied the energy situation of the Iberian Peninsula. The objective there is to increase the interconnection of the other European grids. The Iberian Peninsula has huge potential for wind and solar and with energy storage it would be able to much better support the rest of Europe with green electricity. I have also looked at different batteries and my conclusion is that they are too harmful and damaging to the environment to be a good option for this type of large-scale grid-supporting energy storage. Mine storage is also a cheaper option!
It feels good to have the support from a company that wants to find a thesis subject with actual commercial impact. The Mine Storage team supported me in finding a topic for my thesis and pushed me to find the right academic support. I was lucky enough to get the support of Helena Ramos, a professor at Instituto Superior Técnico that is a renowned expert in hydropower as well as the support of the mine storage team. Mine Storage also provides me with a great work environment where I get support from senior people that have worked in many different areas of the energy space for a long time.
What is your thesis about and what conclusions have you been able to draw so far?
My thesis aims to evaluate the feasibility of the Mine Storage concept in the Iberian Peninsula. By selecting a sample of suitable mines, we aim to do a pumped storage analysis of them utilizing different types of renewable energy, such as solar, floating solar and wind power to see how these types of energy generation would interact with a mine storage. We are also aiming to do a short life cycle assessment (LCA) on this type of energy storage.
So far, we’ve been able to see that there are more suitable types of mines in the Iberian Peninsula than we initially expected, but the electricity market has revealed itself challenging due to its structure and the low interconnection ratio with the rest of Europe. I look forward to sharing the complete analysis once it’s finished!